Monday, November 12, 2018


Toronto Jazz drummer Ethan Ardelli recently visited Calgary with his band this past weekend and I attended his performance & clinic at Long & McQuade on Saturday afternoon.

Ardelli is a fine drummer/composer and in explaining one of his own original compositions, he pointed to the influence of Cuban drummer Jose Luis Quintana (also know as "Changuito"), with whom Ardelli had also studied Afro-Cuban drumming with. He recommended that everyone check out Changuito's incredible drumming on the YouTube for further examples. I was actually reminded of Billy Hart saying the same thing (!) back at a Jazz workshop that I attended in Lake Placid, NY circa. 1998.

In fact, these two following instructional videos are exactly what Hart referred to (although at the time obviously there was no YouTube!) Anyways, get comfortable and check these two resources out, straight from source....

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Jason Marsalis: Snare Drum Improvisations

A very musical and cleverly improvised solo piece from Jason Marsalis today, this time using ONLY a snare drum (with the snares turned OFF incidentally). Check out all the colours and hip grooves that he gets from the instrument:

This also brings to mind some similar solo snare drum improvisations that I've seen from the likes of Han Bennink and Ted Warren. I also heard Evelyn Glennie play a piece for solo suspended cymbal about a year ago at a concert in Calgary, AB. These are all amazing examples that we should follow in our quest to be musically inventive Jazz drummers.

Now imagine if one were to approach ALL the components of the drum set in the same way, exploring all the different colours, textures and rhythmic possibilities that we can get out of ONE instrument. Hmmm....

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Man, this Fall has really been flying by lately but I've been fortunate to have been on the go recently with clinics, private students, and a steady stream of gigs with the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra and, most recently, former CBC Jazz radio host Tim Tamashiro and his new show "When You're Smiling". Anyways, still lots of interesting things to share with you all these days and here's what we've got in store for you in this month's instalment of The Monday Morning Paradiddle. Enjoy!

- Thanks to Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah for passing along this feature on Chicago's Makaya McCraven from Rolling Stones magazine: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/makaya-mccraven-universal-beings-interview-746144/?fbclid=IwAR2ZGoVfA3mvHmCk7H838iEIDmVJB1oZS1F941SUPLKpHo2w_9vjYoac0Ew

- An older Modern Drummer feature on Canadian Jazz legend Terry Clarke:

- WBGO's Nate Chinen on new music from five different notable drummer/composers:

- Lenny White interviews Jeff "Tain" Watts over at his podcast iyouwee: http://iyouwee.com

- Here's Rudy Royston on his latest offering "Flatbed Buggy":

- Billy Hart recently visited Western Michigan University. Read all about it here:

- A article on Joey Baron from Downbeat magazine:

- Mike Clark interviewed by Modern Drummer magazine:

- Here's the trailer for the new upcoming Paul Motian documentary!

MotianInMotion_Alternate_Trailer_ from Michael Patrick Kelly on Vimeo.

- A pair of tributes from Hudson Music, originally used for Zildjian's 375th Anniversary concert in 1998 featuring Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Louie Bellson and Roy Haynes!

- Dan Weiss doing his thing in an urban basketball court:

- Thanks again to Tim Mah for sending along this TEDx talk which is certainly worthy of taking a good look at in this day and age:

- A Neon Jazz interview with Kobie Watkins on the heel of his recent release "Movement":

- When people talk about Philly Joe Jones, this particular track often enters into the conversation (and for good reason!):

- Finally, check out this groovy clip of Geoff Clapp in the studio from awhile back:

I've been taking FaceTime lessons with Geoff lately and he is a great teacher and I highly recommend connecting with him. Contact him via Facebook and schedule an on-line lesson asap. You won't regret it!

- What am I listening to these days?

Time Warp "There and Back" - Barry Elmes (drums)

John Wadham "Drums and Friends" - John Wadham (drums)

Willies Jones III "Groundwork" - Willie Jones III (drums), Warren Wolf (vibraphone)

Donny McCaslin "Give and Go" - Gene Jackson (drums)

Peter Beets "New York Trio" - Willie Jones III (drums)

Bud Powell "Portrait of Thelonious" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

Lee Morgan "The Procrastinator" Billy Higgins (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to pianist and Jazz Messenger Benny Green who, lucky for us, often shares some great gems of wisdom via his Facebook page:

"Preparation" by Benny Green

"If anyone asked me then and if anyone asks me now, why I moved to New York City in 1982, it was always to become a Jazz Messenger.

There was no texting, no email nor social media in 1982. You’d get your ass to the club where the people you wanted to play with were performing, and you'd be dressed reasonably appropriately for that particular band. You'd have listened and played along with some of their records and you'd know some of their arrangements.

You’d be present-minded and not pretend to yourself that one lone recording of a musician from 27 years prior is a reasonable indicator of their current repertoire. You'd consider your instrument's essential vital characteristics as pertained to the aesthetics of the musicians you were about to hear in-person - and keeping it real, who you were hoping to sit in with and eventually be hired to perform and record with.

You’d want to feel like you could bring something to the plate in terms of authenticity with the older players, and contemporary fire and freshness with your peers.

You’d want to know some history, you’d want to know some American popular songs and some instrumental Jazz standards, to be able to play the blues, to be able to play a ballad, and to have endurance with up-tempos.

You’d want to be able to play well for singers, you'd need to be able to play in the appropriate style for swing, for pre-bop, for bebop, for hard bop, for The Jazz Messengers, for Miles and for Coltrane, for soul and funk, bossa novas and sambas (Phoebe's that is).

I've been blessed to have a career playing 99% of the time in 4/4.

You'd better swing your tail off, have that “spark”, or else - hey it’s NYC, nothing personal and thanks for shopping with us.

If you were a young cat, carried yourself with some dignity and humility and were well-dressed, Art would see you coming around, look you in the eyes and get a very accurate read on you - Art Blakey could see your soul and he'd be looking to assess your mettle.

If Art noticed that some of the cats, the more the better, were hanging and talking in a serious way with you on the breaks, then it was a simple matter of being there constantly and waiting for your chance to one night late on the 2nd set, perhaps be invited to step onto Art’s bandstand." 

- Benny Green via Facebook, October 2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Chris Smith - The Drum Hang Vol. 2

Another batch of GREAT Jazz drumming lessons from New York's Chris Smith (who's also currently performing with the Birdland Big Band and the likes of Dick Oatts and Garry Dial). There is LOTS of practical and well-informed information here so take note and learn something from someone who really knows what they are talking about!

Thanks again Chris and keep 'em coming!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Hutch @ Bimhuis

A bunch of really good ones today featuring Gregory Hutchinson on drums with Peter and Marius Beets (on piano and bass, respectively) from a trio hit at Bimhuis Amsterdam:

I've always enjoyed listening to Hutch and videos like these are a nice reminder to dig deeper into my  own Wilcoxin snare drum studies and to retake a healthy dose of Philly Joe Jones...

And if you dig these, make sure to check out Hutch's excellent series of instructional lessons over at Open Studio Network: https://www.openstudionetwork.com/project/fjd-overview/

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Mike Downes "Root Structure"

It's not often that I feature non-drummers here on Four on the Four but I'm always willing to make exceptions for the likes of Toronto bassist Mike Downes. I first met Mike when I was still in high school back in the mid 90s and to this day I consider him to be one of the world's great Jazz bassists and he is one of the hardest working people I know. He is a consummate musician, a wonderful person and an example for us all to follow. Downes and his all-star band from Toronto (including Larnell Lewis on drums!) will be performing in Calgary on November 8th (sorry folks...this exclusive concert is already sold out!). On the eve of this highly anticipated performance and on the heels of his second (!) Juno award for his recent album "Root Structure", Mike was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about himself and his music.

Mike Downes - The Four on the Floor Interview October 2018

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

My latest recording is called “Root Structure.” It won the 2018 JUNO for Jazz Album of the Year: Solo and is a follow up to our 2014 JUNO winning album “Ripple Effect.” It features 2016 JUNO winner Robi Botos, two-time Grammy winner Larnell Lewis (with Snarky Puppy), JUNO winner/nominee Ted Quinlan and myself. 

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

From my liner notes: “In music and life, I’ve always been interested in what lies beneath the surface: the underlying structures that hold everything together, the strength that resides deep down. The music in this recording was composed and performed in this spirit.”

In a more tangible sense, I had recorded music for an 11-piece group (“In the Current”) and I distilled many of the musical colours and structural ideas from that large ensemble to expand the possibilities of the quartet. The musicians are some of my favourite musicians in the world. We have been playing together in many different contexts, and the musical chemistry is magical.

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?

I wanted to have the intimacy of a quartet, yet use different guitar/keyboard, etc. timbres to expand the sonic palette of the quartet. I have often recorded with horns, but I was hearing something else for this recording.

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

All of my compositions have an emotional space that they occupy, and I try to make musical choices that bring that emotional space directly and powerfully to the listener. I don’t expect any two listeners to react the same way to the music, but I do hope it stirs something inside them that inspires them to dig deeper in their own lives.

5) Who are your influences with regards to this style of writing and playing?

A few that come to mind are Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, Brad Mehldau, Wayne Shorter and Pat Metheny.

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

I’m listening to a lot of symphonic music. I’m writing more music for my 11-piece band, so I’m listening to Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer and other composers/arrangers. As far as practicing, I’m so busy that I’m mostly practicing music that I have to perform or record! When I get a chance, I’ve been working on independence exercises as well.

7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

I have a bunch of projects on the go. I produced an album that will be released this month with Ron Davis entitled “SympRONica UpFront” for jazz group and string quartet, I am co-producing a Joni Mitchell project with Yvette Tollar, I’m writing arrangements for a show with Molly Johnson and orchestra, writing music for my next recording, and playing with a lot of great musicians.

8) How does the bass and your overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

I rarely write music on the bass, but I always treat the bass line as a secondary (or even primary) melody. In that respect, I am acutely aware of the top and bottom melodies in music. Rhythm always plays a huge part in my compositions and playing. Playing with rhythms brings me a lot of joy, so I’m sure that factors into my music in a big way.

9) What bassists (or other musicians) do you consider as influences?

I have far too many influences to name, but some of my favourite bassists include Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Oscar Pettiford, Israel Crosby, Paul McCartney and Edgar Meyer. Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown and Hampton Hawes come to mind as players who have had a big influence on my approach.

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians?

Stay passionate, stay curious, be comfortable with a vision that is farther ahead of where you are now and work hard.


Learn more about Mike Downes and his current activities over at his website: www.mikedownes.com

Monday, October 22, 2018

Kobie Watkins "Movement"

Kobie Watkins sent me his latest upcoming musical offering "Movement" featuring his band the Grouptet. I first heard Watkins as a member of the Spin Quartet on the album "In Circles" (Origin Records) featuring him with a group of great Chicago Jazz musicians. I was very impressed with his drumming so naturally I was very interested to hear what he came up with as a composer and leader of his own project.

Kobie was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to tell us about his new music:

1) Tell us about your latest recording!

Movement is an album about dance music that lives in your spirit and body. It’s about you the listener and how this music grooves with you. This album tells us it’s okay to still dance and to dance to jazz music.

2) How did you choose your repertoire and sidemen?

The songs on this album, I’ve been writing since 2008 (I’m still writing them, believe it or not). The songs "Rivet" and "Movement" are the most recent songs added to the list and "MBDC" (the real name for these acronyms I lost) was written in Africa in 2008. Since then the songs I wrote on this album have stuck with my spirit and how I want to present music on my second album.

The band was a total God send. We met and played together from my transplant years to Idaho. Justin Nielsen and I worked and played together at a performing and visual arts school in Eagle, Idaho (2010). During that time I met Ryan Nielsen (yes Justin’s real brother) at the school where he performed his original composition "Able Suite” and of course a jam session.

Later in 2014 Ryan (Classical and Jazz Trumpet Professor) and I worked together in Rexburg, Idaho (BYU-I) and a year later Aaron Miller (bassist) came back as the professor of Classical and Jazz Bass and we met and played at the student jam session. Jonathan Armstrong started working at Idaho State University as head of the Jazz Department.(2016) and we played his original music in a recital. These were immediate musical and spiritual connections, nothing political. These guys can just play (as you can here on the album). Let me just state the obvious: it was all a process and I (you) have to be patient in it.

3) What inspired you to pursue the vibe and instrumentation that you did?

I’m inspired by how music moves me and people all over the world. Music and dance, I’ve learned, breaks language barriers. You no longer have to speak Swahili, Japanese or English to speak music so as I wrote these songs this was my feeling while writing and discovering my natural inclinations. The instrumentation comes from listening to great jazz quintets and they’re horn blends (Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Roy Hargrove and Ron Blake, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Art Farmer and Benny Golson, Cannonball and Nat Adderley, to name a few). The modern sound of my writing and approach help me and the Grouptet make these instrumentation choices. If you don’t have the players/friends with the sound or potential, the search process must continue.

4) Was there a particular message you were trying to convey to the listener?

DANCE…on every performance and every listen. Make dance your outlet and avenue of expression through this and all music that interest you to Move. There was a time when jazz was mentioned, and you knew there would be dancing (though I never grew up then, I've heard stories and read some as well).

5) Who are your influences with regards to this style of writing and playing?

Artist and genres that influenced my writing include: Sonny Rollins, Branford Marsalis, Jeff Watts, Asa Watkins, Bobby Broom, Dexter Gordon, Thomas Whitfield, Stevie Wonder, Jarrard Harris, Kenny Garrett, Wayne Shorter. These people, I’ve memorized their musical signatures and creative style; singing and transcribing their melodies, solos and vamps.

6) What are you practicing/studying/listening to/researching these days?

I’m currently practicing ostinatos, bass drum and hi hat figures with triplet options with my hands and always practicing singles, doubles, and reconfiguring all forms of paradiddles. Researching: string sounds and articulations. Listening to gospel, classical, Brazilian, latin, big band and vocal jazz. Studying/reading: "Creativity the Perfect Crime" and "Born to Run".

7) What other current and future projects do you have on the go at the moment?

My album release concert is on Friday, October 26th at the Durham Fruit Co. in Durham North Carolina.

Next February 2019 the Grouptet will premier with the Idaho State Civic Symphony six of my compositions arranged for crchestra. “The Kobie Watkins Grouptet Symphony Sessions feat. ISCS" will be performed in Pocatello, Idaho conducted by Julie Sorenson (undergraduate peer and now colleague).

8) How do the drums and overall approach to rhythm factor into your compositions and concept?

I sing the melody I hear and I play the drums after. The melody has enough rhythmic possibilities for a drum groove or feel that I rarely think about the drums as the first approach to the composition.
Drums of course do play a healthy roll in how the composition or arrangement develops. The drum part solidifies my melodic hopes.

For example, the song "Rivet" on this album has a flowing rhythmic melody but isn’t over instructed by drum riffs. MBDC is nothing but rhythm most of the melody sits on the syncopation of the beat. I’m a musician cultured by Rhythm, Melody and Harmony, influenced deeply by sound.

9) What drummers & other instrumentalists do you consider as influences?

Alious C Watkins, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Buddy Rich, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Max Roach, Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl, Michael Williams, Oscar Seaton, Dana Davis, Kevin Brunson, Joel Smith, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Pharohs, The Winans, Clark Sisters, Kim Burrell, Arlindo Cruz.

10) What advice do you have for younger, aspiring jazz musicians and drummers?

My advice for young drummers would be to listen to music, not for what you can do to “improve it” but what musical messages are being conveyed. Meaning: can I/ you hear and sing the other instrument parts? What are the other instruments and are they real musicians? Can you follow the form? Can you sing the melody louder than you’re playing? I believe all drummers should spend some time at the piano (I’m not a functional pianist, but I can find what I need). Playing slow is just as important as playing fast, if not more. Continue to be the best musician/ drummer you can be. It’s fun and competitive, sometimes even physically painful, but rewarding, however one ends their groove for the moment or day. 

Young Ladies and Gentlemen: I honestly don’t believe there are bad (horrible) drummers, just drummers who do a horrible job of listening effectively.

Another importance: please learn music theory. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Music theory is not just reading music it’s also arranging instruments and sounds. It’s balancing compositional decisions (sometimes in the moment). You can learn a lot by being more than just the drummer.


Learn more about Kobie and his latest album "Movement" over at his website: www.kobiewatkins.com

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dave King on Improvisation

Dave King of Bad Plus and "Rational Funk" fame offers some great ideas and sage advice about improvising on the drums thanks to the kind people over at Drumeo:

I was lucky to hear King with the Bad Plus at Ronnie Scott's in London, England in 2010 and was impressed with his creativity, imagination and musical sensitivity.

Dig this Modern Drummer interview with Dave King as well:


Monday, October 15, 2018

Mel Lewis: Rub-a-Dub

I posted a first volume of Chris Smith's excellent YouTube series "The Drum Hang" awhile ago and was intending to post more as another batch as he released them (I still intend to) BUT....his most recent offering, a tutorial on Mel Lewis and his infamous "Rub-a-Dub" rhythmic concept clearly deserves a mention of its own:

Chris has done an excellent job of breaking down and explaining Mel's unique approach to drumming that served both small and large Jazz ensembles alike.

Furthermore, if you watch this video you'll see some rare, up close footage of Mel in action which I've never seen before and we are fortunate to have available for us to see.

Thanks again Chris and keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Gerry Hemingway

A few great spots of Gerry Hemingway today, a wonderfully unique drummer/percussionist/improviser whom I started checking out thanks to suggestions from Toronto's Nick Fraser, following my call awhile back for some recommendations for great works for improvised solo drums.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Dana Hall: Tenor & Drums Duet

Some fantastic tenor & drum duet music today from Chicago's Dana Hall with John Wojciechowski on tenor saxophone:

As you can see above, Dana is a ferocious player and incredibly musical; exactly what we should all be striving towards (and that is: all ears, all the time!) I've been fortunate to take a lesson with Dr. Hall in the past and he's a great educator too.

Here's also a nice feature from Modern Drummer magazine to check out:


Monday, October 1, 2018

Ignacio Berroa: Afro-Cuban Jazz & Beyond

Some wonderful drumming and insight today from Ignacio Berroa, a drummer who truly understands the intersection of Afro-Cuban rhythms and straight-ahead Jazz drumming:

Whenever I have questions about specific Afro-Cuban rhythms or approaches to playing Latin Jazz music, Berroa is always my go-to resource to figure things out.

This one is long out-of-print but his instructional video from the 90s is also really worth checking out as well:

These ones are more recent and here Ignacio demonstrates a few different concepts thanks to the kind people from LP Percussion:

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle

Welcome back and here is the first edition of the Monday Morning Paradiddle for the fall of 2018. Lots of interesting things to share with you today. Thanks for checking back and don't forget to check out my companion Instagram page as well. Please feel free to leave comments. I'd love to hear from you all.

In any event, here's what we've got for you today:

- Check out the story behind the iconic Gretsch logo:


- Hear what several prominent drummers had to say about the impact of Max Roach, Art Blakey and Philly Joe Jones:


- Some older, but great articles from JazzTimes magazine...

Matt Wilson on avant-garde drumming:


Bill Stewart


Jeff "Tain" Watts


- Ted Panken interviews Lewis Nash (originally from Downbeat magazine):


- A couple of great interviews from Pablo Held:

Firstly, here's the great Joey Baron (parts II-IV to come later...):

And here's Bill Stewart:

And here is some great studio footage of Bill with pianist Miki Yamanaka from her recent release "A Fake Hero":

- Here's Joe Farnsworth with a clever drum solo that switches back and forth between sticks and brushes...and then back and forth between sticks and brushes! (sure...why not!)

- Carl Allen shows off his new DW drums:

- Christian McBride's new band New Jawn with drummer Nasheet Waits has a new album coming out soon. Check out this preview:

- I've recently been digging the late Mulgrew Miller's piano trio records that feature Karriem Riggins on the drums. Here's some great footage of Riggins in action:

- More action footage, this time up-close with Willie Jones III:

- The always musical and super swinging Lewis Nash:

- Keep an eye on this young guy....here's Charles Goold with an inventive solo:

- And finally, here's one of my all-time Canadian Jazz heroes, Edmonton's PJ Perry on alto saxophone with Vancouver Island's Hans Verhoeven on drums:

- What am I listening to these days?

Michael Brecker "Tales from the Hudson" - Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Neal Smith "Live at Smalls" - Neal Smith (drums)

Michael Blake "Tiddy Boom" - Rudy Royston (drums)

M.T.B "Consenting Adults" - Leon Parker (drums)

Walt Weiskopf/Andy Fusco "Tea for Two" - Billy Drummond (drums)

One for All "Blueslike" - Joe Farnsworth (drums)

Jon Ballantyne "Sky Dance" - Jerry Fuller (drums)

Peter Beets "New York Trio - Page 3" - Herlin Riley (drums)

- And today's Final Word goes to the immortal wisdom of Elvin Jones (and a special thank you to Ireland's Ronan Guilfoyle for passing this one along):

"There’s only one way to achieve this thing, and that’s hard work. You’ve got to do it. You can’t just dream that something is going to happen; you’ve got to make it happen. And the way to do that is to prepare. And preparing requires a lot of discipline. They used to say, ’Go into the woodshed and practice.’ That’s what it’s all about. You have to get into the shed. A lot of young cats have the wrong idea. They forget there’s a lot of hard work involved. I try to keep them aware of the fact that hard work is necessary to accomplish that. They have to get in the habit of self-discipline, and not just when you think somebody’s looking. You have to do it all the time. It has to be part of what your life is all about. You commit to music in a way that you commit to yourself. If you can’t do that, you might as well forget it.” - Elvin Jones

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Chris Smith - The Drum Hang Vol. 1

I am really digging this new series of YouTube video lessons from Chris Smith these days, entitled "The Drum Hang". His topics are relevant and explanations very concise and informative. Lots of great information to be found here. Personally, I've been shedding his Edgar Bateman and Al Foster tom tom moves all week and will transcribe his recommended Shelly Manne solo from "Way Out West" next.

I asked Chis a few questions about "The Drum Hang" and this is what he had to say:

"As for The Drum Hang I will be posting a new episode each week, so this is just the beginning! I love sharing things with other drummers and I thought this YouTube series was a good way to go about doing that. Currently I am not teaching at the University level, something I have done and love to do, so these videos serve as an outlet for me to remain actively teaching these concepts to students all around the world. Of course most episodes will be applicable to students of any age or skill level, but most geared to college level students. I do hope to eventually have more and more viewers sharing their versions of the exercises not only with me but with all the viewers of The Drum Hang. I plan to accept videos of people adding to or working on things that I post, then adding them to the Drum Hang portion of my website. I want to build a real "hang" or community vibe to this, so as it evolves I will figure out how to make that user friendly.

Please let your readers know:

1) The Drum Hang page on my website is the best for viewing the episodes, as it not only has the videos but also transcriptions that go with each topic 
(*ed. note - vist his website here: http://www.chrissmithjazzdrums.com)

2) New Episodes weekly 

3) I hope to create a "hang" around these topics. I would love to have people show me what they are working on or how my concepts helped or not!"

Thanks again Chris and we hope to see more lessons up soon. If you keep making them, we'll keep posting them!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Evan Sherman

A couple short clips today of Evan Sherman, a wonderful up-and-coming drummer who swings hard and plays with taste and musical integrity, shown here with pianist Emmet Cohen, another great young musician you don't want to miss:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Steve Smith on Cymbals

People often take their cymbals for granted and many assume that you just whack 'em and everything will work out just fine! Well, there is obviously much more to it than that..

Thanks to the kind people over at the Memphis Drum Shop, here's the great Steve Smith with a few basic but helpful tips on how to properly play one's cymbals:

Monday, September 10, 2018

It's Hammer Time!

From a recent performance at Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend festival, here's some absolutely fantastic piano trio drumming from Jeff Hamilton and his crew for you to check out this morning:

What a perfect way to start the week, if I might say so myself...

And while we're at it, here's Hamilton demonstrating the "melodic" possibilities of the drum set on his drum arrangement of Juan Tizol/Duke Ellington's classic composition "Caravan" (*see last week's post with Allison Miller for more on THAT*):

A Modern Drummer magazine feature from a couple of years ago...


And, finally, a couple of great cymbal tips from the Maestro himself (courtesy of the nice people over at the Memphis Drum Shop):

Okay, one more (!) Here's a brief, but excellent demonstration of Jeff's great brushwork:

Thanks Jeff!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Matt Wilson "Willisee"

Some great tenor/drum duet drumming today from Matt Wilson and saxophonist Will Brown on Dewey Redman's classic theme "Willisee":

This piece was originally recorded as a duet between Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell on the 1980 live album "In Willisau". Wilson was also a long-time sonic collaborator with Redman, playing in his quartet in later years.

I was fortunate to study with Matt during 2004 in New York City thanks to a study grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. I consider Matt and a good friend and a mentor. He always puts the music first and is all ears, all the time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Allison Miller: "Can You Hear Melody in the Drums?"

And...we're back! I hope you all had a wonderful summer. Personally I know that I really enjoyed myself over the last month, travelling across Newfoundland (and Labrador) and just returned from a week in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now that Labour Day has come and gone, it's time to get back to work.

Thanks to Christian McBride and his excellent on-going series Jazz Night in America, here's the wonderfully musical Allison Miller offering some great ideas, concepts and philosophies on melodic Jazz drumming, ideas that I wholeheartedly agree with and subscribe to in my own playing and teaching as well:

If you are interested in reading more about this sort of thing, why not check out my own doctoral dissertation on the subject?


Thanks again and see you all again real soon.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Monday Morning Paradiddle: Summer Edition

I'm going to be taking my annual summer break from blogging and social media shortly, so this Monday Morning Paradiddle will be my last blog post until September. Fortunately for us, our correspondents have been quite busy, compiling a great list of articles and clips to check out over the remainder of the summer months. Hope you dig it.

- Chicago's Dana Hall featured in Modern Drummer magazine:


- I recently performed with Jazz great Sheila Jordan earlier this summer in Calgary. Here's a nice article from the Calgary Herald about this incredible women:


- Thanks to Tim Mah who forwarded this new podcast series from Lenny White (including interviews with Ron Carter and Mike Clark!):


And....this interview with Rodney Green:


- Brian Blade interviewed by The Trap Set:


And also a recent feature from the Globe & Mail:


- CBC Radio recently aired a wonderful piece on Sheila E and other great female drummers who've battled all sorts of societal obstacles and challenges in the music industry:


Also from CBC radio, a feature on John Coltrane's recently unearthed quartet album featuring Elvin Jones:


- Thanks to Patrick Boyle for hipping me to this 1971 WKCR interview with Elvin Jones:


- Hey look! It's a rare recording of Elvin Jones with the Duke Ellington Orchestra circa. 1966:

I don't think this arrangement lasted long (!) but it was nice while it lasted.

- Ethan Iverson on the legacy of Lorraine Gordon:


- An interview with Marvin "Smitty" Smith:


- From Jazz Profiles, a two-part feature on Philly Joe Jones:

Part 1 http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com/2008/08/wonder-of-philly-joe-jones-part-1.html

Part 2 http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com/2008/08/wonder-of-philly-joe-jones-part-2.html

- Some awesome bootlegs featuring Canadian Jazz Drumming Legend Claude Ranger courtesy of Scott White:


- Even more Claude Ranger, this time thanks to Montreal's Mike Rud who shared this personal recording of "Holy Land":

- Antonio Sanchez playing great, in a somewhat awkward interview:

- Adam Nussbaum always has GREAT things to say. Listen to his two-part interview from Drummer Nation:

And even more from the nice people over at Drummer Nation, an interview with Joe LaBarbera:

There will be more coming from Adam Nussbaum, here at Four on the Floor, in the fall so stay tuned.

- Eric Harland! Oh wow!

- Joe Farnsworth going for it, in Italy, on A Night in Tunisia:

- A few wise words from Ralph Peterson Jr.:

- Chris Smith recently started his own on-line teaching platform via YouTube entitled The Drum Hang. Here's the first instalment, featuring some important ideas on ride cymbal technique:

- I performed with Edmonton saxophonist PJ Perry a few years ago on a tribute to the music of Charlie Parker. Someone recently sent me this clip and you can hear me warming up in the background Lol:

- What am I listening to these days?

Solon McDade "Murals" - Rich Irwin (drums)

Cory Weeds Little Big Band "Explosion" - Jesse Cahill (drums)

Grant Stewart "TRIO" - Phil Stewart (drums)

Mike Allen Quartet featuring Hugh Fraser "Panorama" - Julian McDonough (drums)

Sheila Jordan "Portrait of Sheila" - Denzil Best (drums)

David Kikoski "Consequences" - Jeff Tain Watts (drums)

Soren Nissen "Departures" - Ian Wright (drums)

- And today's Final Word go to pianist Benny Green with some sage advice for anyone who is really interested in playing Jazz music:

Thanks again for checking back and for all your continued support.

Please enjoy the rest of your summer and see you in September!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Tim Mah's 2018 Montreal Jazz Fest in Review

My good friend and frequent Four on the Floor correspondent Tim Mah recently attended the 2018 edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Tim has great taste in contemporary Jazz music and was kind enough to offer this summary of the great music he heard during his time in Montreal.

Tim also hosts the radio program Jazz Today on CJSW and can be found here: https://cjsw.com/program/jazz-today/

So, without any further adieu:

"Tim Mah's 2018 Montreal Jazz Fest in Review"
A recap of the 2018 Festival International de Jazz de Montreal / Montreal International Jazz Festival

When: June 28 to July 7, 2018

Where: The 39th edition of the festival included over 500 events across 13 venues and 7 outdoor stages, primarily located in downtown Montreal. There were over 150 indoor concerts and over 300 free admission events. The outdoor stages and primary venues are within walking distance. The music ranges from jazz, blues, rock, funk, R&B, pop, and folk musics.

Set length: The outdoor concerts are one-hour sets. The set lengths for the indoor concerts varied by venue. For example, at Gesu, there are no opening acts, so expect the set to be 60 to 75 minutes long. At Place des Arts, the opening acts are usually 40 to 60 minutes, and the headline act runs for 75 to 90 minutes, with a 20 to 30 minute intermission. Expect similar set and intermission lengths at the other indoor venues. This is important to note if you are planning to attend a concert before or after an indoor concert.


Festival International de Jazz de Montreal / Montreal International Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival in the world. With over 500 concerts and schedule overlaps, it was a challenge to hear all of the concerts I wanted to experience. This blog post covers 20 of the artists I heard and will feature the drummer in each of the bands.

1) Cecile McLorin Salvant

Personnel: Cecile McLorin Salvant (voice), Adam Birnbaum (piano), Paul Sikivie (bass), Kyle Poole (drums).

Location: Theatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts

Recap: Cecile McLorin Salvant’s concert featured music from the Grammy award winning album “Dreams and Daggers.”

In this video (“A Night in the Life: Kyle Poole” from Jazz at Lincoln Center circa. 2014), Kyle Poole talks about being a student at the New School and a working musician at the same time:

This is a video of Kyle Poole with the Emmet Cohen Trio at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival:

2) Christian Sands

Personnel: Christian Sands (piano), Eric Wheeler (bass), Jonathan Barber (drums).

Location: Theatre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts

Recap: The Christian Sands Trio performed a fast paced 40-minute set before the Cecile McLorin Salvant concert. Christian Sands and Cecile McLorin Salvant will be in Calgary on April 11, 2019, as part of the only Canadian tour stop for the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour (60th Anniversary Edition).

The drummer in the band was Jonathan Barber, who released his debut album, “Vision Ahead,” in May 2018. He can also be heard on Jeremy Pelt’s 2018 album “Noir en Rouge (Live in Paris)” and on Sharel Cassity’s 2018 album “Evolve”.

This is a video of the Jeremy Pelt Quintet performing the song “Make Noise!” at the 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival featuring Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Victor Gould (piano), Vicente Archer (bass), Jacquelene Acevedo (percussion) and Jonathan Barber (drums):

Here is Jonathan Barber and his band performing “Mr. JB” from Jonathan Barber’s "Vision Ahead" album:

3) Keyon Harrold

Personnel: Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Shedrick Mitchell (piano), Burniss Travis (bass), Nir Felder (guitar), Charles Haynes (drums).

Location: Gesu

Recap: Keyon Harrold performed music from his 2017 album “The Mugician”

This is a video of Charles Haynes with Keyon Harrold at Duc des Lombards in Paris:

Here is Charles Haynes with Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life band at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London:

4) Emmet Cohen Trio with Veronica Swift

Personnel: Emmet Cohen (piano), Russell Hall (bass), Evan Sherman (drums), Veronica Swift (voice)

Location: Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill

Recap: The Emmet Cohen Trio performed four nights at the Upstairs Jazz - the first night with Veronica Swift, the second night with Houston Person and the last two nights with Benny Golson.

This is a video of a master class in Cleveland, Ohio, featuring Emmet Cohen, Russell Hall and Evan Sherman:

This is a video of the Evan Sherman Big Band:

5) Marius Neset

Personnel: Marius Neset (saxophones), Ivo Neame (piano), Michael Janisch (bass), Anton Eger (drums).

Location: Gesu

Recap: Marius Neset performed music from the 2017 album “Circle of Chimes.”

This is a video featuring Marius Neset and Anton Eger:

Anton Eger is also a member of the band Phronesis. This is a video of Phronesis performing “Herne Hill” (written by Anton Eger):

6) Ghost-Note

Personnel: Robert “Sput” Searight (durms), Nate Werth (percussion), Xavier Taplin (keys), MonoNeon (bass), Sylvester Onyejiaka (saxophone)

Location: Club Jazz Casino de Montreal

Recap: Ghost-Note is co-led by Snarky Puppy rhythm section members, Robert Searight and Nate Werth. The group performed music primarily from the 2018 album "Swagism".

This is a video of Ghost-Note performing “Swagism” at the 2018 Victoria International Jazz Festival:

This is a video of Ghost-Note performing “Milkshake” at the 2018 Victoria International Jazz Festival:

7) Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop

Personnel: Ernesto Cervini (drums), Dan Loomis (bass), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone), Tara Davidson (alto and other saxophone), William Carn (trombone)

Location: Club Jazz Casino de Montreal

Recap: Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop performed music from their 2017 album “Rev”.

This is a video of Turboprop performing “Pennies from Heaven” at the Rex in Toronto:

Here is a video of Turboprop performing “Red Cross” at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, AB:

8) Mark Guiliana

Personnel: (Beat Music): Mark Guiliana (drums), Bigyuki (keys), Chris Morrissey (electric bass), Jeff Taylor (voice)

Personnel: (Jazz Quartet): Mark Guiliana (drums), Jason Rigby (saxophone), Fabian Almazan (piano), Chris Morrissey (bass), Gretchen Parlato (voice)

Location: Gesu

Recap: Mark Guiliana performed three concerts at Gesu as part of the Invitation Series. The first concert was with John Medeski and Billy Martin. I attended the last two concerts: Mark Guiliana 's Beat Music, featuring Bigyuki, and the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet with Gretchen Parlato.

This is a video of Mark Guilana's Beat Music (featuring Bigyuki) from Zinc Bar in 2014:

This is the concert video of the Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet at the 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival:

9) Herbie Hancock

Personnel: Herbie Hancock (piano, keys), Lionel Loueke (guitar), James Genus (bass), Trevor Lawrence Jr. (drums).

Location: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts

Recap: Herbie Hancock and his band performed classic songs from Herbie Hancock’s repertoire.

This is a video of 2016 Herbie Hancock’s concert on Jazz Night in America from the BRIC Celebrate Festival, featuring all of the band members and Terrace Martin (keyboards, saxophone):

This is a video of an interview with Trevor Lawrence Jr. talking about his 2017 debut album called “Relationships”:

10) Thundercat

Personnel: Thundercat (a.k.a. Stephen Bruner) – bass, voice; Dennis Hamm – keys; Justin Brown – drums.

Location: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts

Recap: Thundercat performed a 60-minute set before Herbie Hancock’s concert.

Here’s a video of Thundercat on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, with Dennis Hamm (keys), Miguel Atwood Ferguson (violin) and Justin Brown (drums):

Justin Brown’s debut album “NYEUSI” was released at the end of June 2018. This is a video of Justin Brown and NYEUSI's Boiler Room Live set:

11) Gilad Hekselman Trio with Mark Turner

Personnel: Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Rick Rosato (bass), Jonathan Pinson (drums), Mark Turner (tenor saxophone)

Location: Gesu

Recap: Gilad Hekselman’s concert featured music from the album “Ask For Chaos” (to be released in September 2018)

Here is a video of Jonathan Pinson with the Gilad Hekselman (“gHex”) trio performing “Take the Coltrane”:

This is a video of Jonathan Pinson with the Daniel Szabo trio at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles:

12) Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band

Personnel: Brian Blade (drums), Jon Cowherd (piano), Chris Thomas (bass), Myron Walden (alto saxophone, bass clarinet), Melvin Butler (tenor and soprano saxophones)

Location: Monument National

Recap: Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band featured music from the album Body and Shadow.

This is a video of Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band at the 2015 Rimouski jazz festival performing “Migration”:

This is a video of Brian Blade with the Children of the Light Trio (including John Patitucci and Danilo Perez):

13) Renee Rosnes

Personnel: Renee Rosnes (piano), Steve Nelson (vibraphone), Robert Hurst (bass), Lenny White (drums)

Location: Maison Symphonique at Place des Arts

Recap: Renee Rosnes was the recipient of the Oscar Peterson award at the 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival. The 60 minute concert featured music from Renee Rosnes’ 2018 album “Beloved of the Sky”.

An interview with Lenny White from the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Interview Series 2015:

Lenny White in Clinic from 1983:

14) Dave Holland Zakir Hussain & Chris Potter Trio (“Crosscurrents Trio”)

Personnel: Dave Holland (bass), Zakir Hussain (tabla), Chris Potter (saxophone)

Location: Maison Symphonique at Place des Arts

Recap: Crosscurrents is an international super group led by Dave Holland and Zakir Hussain, which has been touring across the world over the last year. A subset of the band (“Crosscurrents Trio”) has been performing at jazz festivals this summer. Zakir Hussain was the recipient of the Antonio Carlos Jobim award from the festival.

This is a video of the Crosscurrents Trio at the 2018 Istanbul Jazz Festival:

The Crosscurrents concert (May 2018 at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center) featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America:

15) Theo Croker

Personnel: Theo Croker (trumpet), Irwin Hall (alto saxophone), Mike King (piano, keys, bongos), Eric Wheeler (bass), Kassa Overall (drums)

Location: Gesu

Recap: Theo Croker performed music from his most recent album “Escape Velocity” and new music from his forthcoming album “Star People Nation.”

From the 2015 Montreal International Jazz Festival, this is a video of Theo Croker's “Dvrk Funk”:

This is a video of Kassa Overall in the Geri Allen Trio:

16) Allison Au Quartet

Personnel: Allison Au (saxophone), Todd Pentney (piano), Jon Maharaj (bass), Fabio Ragnelli (drums)

Location: TD Stage

Recap: The Allison Au Quartet was the recipient of the 2017 Grand Jazz Award at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The quartet returned to the 2018 festival to perform on the TD Stage (the largest outdoor stage at the festival). This was the final stop on the cross Canada tour. The quartet was featured in the June 11, 2018 Four on the Floor post, regarding their appearance in Calgary.

This is a video of the Allison Au Quartet performing “Tides” from the Juno Award winning album, Forest Grove:

This is a video of Fabio Ragnelli with the Alex Goodman Trio, performing “Let’s Cool One”:

17) Steve Kuhn

Personnel: Steve Kuhn (piano), Aidan O’Donnell (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)

Location: Monument National

Recap: The festival recognized Steve Kuhn’s 80th birthday with this concert. The Steve Kuhn trio performed a set of jazz standards to an appreciative audience.

Here is a video of Billy Drummond with the Steve Kuhn Trio, including Steve Swallow (bass):

See the Four on the Floor blog post on July 19, 2018 for more on Billy Drummond.

18) David Binney’s Alhambra Quartet

Personnel: David Binney (saxophone), Luca Mendoza (piano), Logan Kane (bass), Nate Wood (drums)

Location: Gesu

Recap: David Binney’s Alhambra Quartet concert featured compositions from Binney and Mendoza. Chris Potter joined the band for one song. Alhambra is a reference to Los Angeles, where all of the band members are from. The concert included songs from across David Binney’s catalogue, including his 2018 album “Hear & Now” and an unreleased song from a 2019 album with Antonio Sanchez, Ben Monder and Matt Brewer.

Nate Wood’s fOUR is a project of one take performances with no prerecorded backing tracks, overdubs or click track. The album, called “X.IT,” is scheduled for release on July 27, 2018.

This is a video of Nate Wood’s “Rabbit” from the fOUR project:

This is a video of Nate Wood performing with Kneebody (2014 in Seattle):

19) Dr. Lonnie Smith Evolution

Personnel: Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ). Jonathan Kreisberg (guitar), Johnathan Blake (drums), Jason Marshall (baritone saxophone), Robin Eubanks (trombone), John Ellis (tenor saxophone), Andrew McAnsh (trumpet), Alicia Olatuja (voice).

Location: Gesu

Recap: Dr. Lonnie Smith was one of the artists selected to perform during the Invitation Series at the festival. The concert I attended featured the large ensemble called “Evolution”, which is a reference to the 2016 album on Blue Note Records. Dr. Lonnie Smith also performed one night with his trio and another night with Chris Potter. Toronto trumpeter, Andrew McAnsh, was a late substitution for this concert (he flew in the day of the concert).

Here is Johnathan Blake with the Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio (Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jonathan Kreisberg, Johnathan Blake) performing “Beehive and My Favourite Things”:

This is a video of Johnathan Blake performing “Shuffle Boil” with the Kenny Barron Trio (plus guest, Elena Pinderhughes on the flute) from the 2016 Montreal International Jazz Festival.

Check out the previous posts on Four on the Floor Blog featuring Johnathan Blake.

20) Shai Maestro Trio

Personnel: Shai Maestro (piano), Joe Martin (bass), Ofri Nehemya (drums)

Location: Gesu

Recap: The Shai Maestro Trio performed an improvised set, drawing from Shai Maestro’s most recent album, The Stone Skipper.

One of the songs performed at Gesu was “From One Soul to Another” from The Stone Skipper. This is a video of the Shai Maestro Trio (Shai Maestro, Jorge Roeder, Ofri Nehemya) performing the song at the 2017 Voll-Damm Jazz Festival in Barcelona:

This is a video of Ofri Nehemya, with Omer Avital’s band, performing “Know What I Mean!?” (from Omer Avital’s 2018 album, Qantar):

Monday, July 23, 2018

Kongsberg 1975

A shout out and very special thank you to Julian MacDonough who found this gem.

From Kongsberg, Norway circa. 1975 here's a documentary with some great performance footage and insightful interviews from the likes of Ed Thigpen, Billy Higgins, Elvin Jones and Dannie Richmond:

I really like Mr. Higgins' answer when asked what the role of the drummer is:

"He's a navigator", Higgins replied...now think about THAT for awhile!

And here's a short-cut to the footage of Elvin Jones and his quartet (featuring Pat LaBarbera on tenor saxophone....apparently this was also his very first European tour with Elvin's band):

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Billy Drummond on "Little B's Poem"

A wonderfully musical solo from one of my favourite Jazz drummers, the great Billy Drummond, improvising on Bobby Hutcherson's composition "Little B's Poem" from a recent hit at Small's in New York City:

And while we're at it, here is Drummond offering a story on how he came to play with the great Sonny Rollins:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Savion Glover & Marcus Gilmore

And...we're back.

And what better way to kick off our summer return than with some recent and truly dynamic interplay between two master rhythmatists: tap artist Savion Glover and Marcus Gilmore on drums.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Jazz Camp

I will be taking a brief break from blogging for a bit here (although please check my Instagram feed as I'll still be posting photos of random drums & Jazz drummers regularly over there...) In the meantime I'll be heading to my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan shortly to teach at the annual Prairielands Summer Jazz Camp being held at the University of Regina for the next ten days.

I've been involved with this particular Jazz camp for 25 years now, first participating as a student when it started back in 1994 then 1995, then working as a camp assistant for a number of years, eventually taking over as the Jazz drum instructor in 2002 until now.

Jazz camps (and workshops in general) are an intense, fun and a great experience. I've taught at and participated in quite a few over the years. Those first two camps I attended in Regina back in the mid-90s while I was still in high school were formative experiences for me: having the opportunity to work with drummers Kevin Dempsey and Andre White and also offering introductions to many teachers who would later become important figures and mentors in my formal education in later years while studying in Montreal and Toronto (ie. Kevin Dean, Gordon Foote, Paul Read, Kirk MacDonald, Mike Downes, Kevin Turcotte, Brad Turner, Chase Sanborn, Kristin Korb, etc.)

While definitely not high school experiences, I've also attended the summer Jazz workshops at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1997) and the Lake Placid Jazz Workshop (1998). Between those two experiences I had the opportunity to work with amazing drummers and teachers such as Joe LaBarbera, Abraham Adzenyah and Billy Hart (!) as well as the chance to play with and learn from such icons as Kenny Wheeler, Don Thompson, Hugh Fraser, Hadley Caliman, Pat LaBarbera, Joe Lovano, Tim Hagans, Kenny Werner, Rufus Reid, John Abercrombie, Jim McNeely and Dick Oatts!

The Lake Placid, New York workshop is long gone but the Banff Centre still hosts an amazing workshop every summer and I highly recommend this to everyone I know. That summer in Banff really changed my life and it really is a special place. Some of the musical relationships that started during those summers with other "campers" continue to this day.

A couple of Jazz "camps" that are currently on my radar and hope to attend in the near future include Billy Martin's "Rhythm, Sound and Magic" Workshop https://www.rhythmsoundandmagic.com and Phil Dwyer's Jazz and Culinary Arts Academy https://mcmillanartscentre.com/school-for-creative-arts/the-phil-dwyer-academy-of-music-culinary-arts/phil-dwyer-jazz-and-culinary-arts-academy-at-the-mac-this-summer/

If you are a high school student looking for an intensive Jazz experience or an emerging university Jazz student (or older even...) I can't recommend enough to take part in an intensive workshop or "Jazz camp" experience at some point. They will undoubtedly put you in new musical surroundings and push your knowledge and abilities.

So wherever you might be this summer and whatever Jazz experience you choose to participate in, no matter what stage you are at in your musical career, happy camping!